June 27, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Since the beginning of construction in March, University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz has watched the new football practice facility take shape. Now he's in awe waiting for the finishing touches.
"I walked out last week and the sun was going down, and it struck me what a beautiful building it is," said Ferentz while meeting with the media Wednesday inside the atrium of the Hayden Fry Football Complex. "It looks good on the inside, it looks good on the outside, and it is something our players are really going to benefit from in the short term and that's what it is all about."
When the 102,000 square foot facility, which features 45-foot high side walls and 65-foot clearance at the peak, is completed in August, Iowa will have a practice venue to compete with any program in the Big Ten Conference. It will have a 100-yard indoor facility with FieldTurf, three filming platforms and goalpost netting.
"We want to build facilities where our team can compete for the best athletes, and we know how important the facilities are to getting the best athletes. When it comes down to recruiting, we want to make sure that we have the facilities that compete within the Big Ten, and we believe this facility does."
UI senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer
The $55 million facility upgrade will also have outdoor grass fields available north of the facility and outside FieldTurf inside Kinnick Stadium.
That's a step up from the recently deflated 27-year old Bubble.
The new facility has the Hawkeye players buzzing, even if they have yet to step inside.
"Anything would beat the Bubble," said junior safety Tanner Miller. "On these 95 or 100 degree days, it was a nightmare in there. Having these new facilities is going to be pretty cool, not just for us, but as a recruiting tool.
"I've heard a few guys that have gone in there and looked around a little bit, and I've heard all great things. They said it is going to be massive, and we're all pretty excited about it."
While junior Anthony Hitchens is excited to take advantage of the facility as a player, he knows what kind of doors it will open in the world of college football recruiting.
"It's going to give recruits a better look at our program," said Hitchens, a linebacker from Ohio. "It is going to bring in more recruits, and when it is finished it should be a really nice facility."
UI senior associate athletics director Jane Meyer said the Hawkeyes needed to invest in a facility to allow the coaches to better compete on the recruiting trail.
"We want to build facilities where our team can compete for the best athletes, and we know how important the facilities are to getting the best athletes," said Meyer, while leading a facility tour with the Iowa media. "When it comes down to recruiting, we want to make sure that we have the facilities that compete within the Big Ten, and we believe this facility does."
Phase II of the project will include new offices for coaches and staff, strength and conditioning facilities and meeting and locker rooms. The operations building, which will be south of the current facility, has a target completion date of 2014.